Friday, December 9, 2011

Karcher Pressure Washers

These types of electronic pressure washers can be handy.  However, as a consumer-grade appliance, you have to treat them gently.

A pressure washer is a useful tool to have.   Over time, your house may get dusty and dirty, sidewalks and patios stain and discolor, and cars need to be washed.  A pressure washer comes in handy.  You can spend hundreds of dollars on a gasoline-powered "professional" washer, but chances are, it is overkill for the average homeowner.

Karcher makes these cheap electric jobs, and they are more than suitable for homeowner use.  However, they are made of plastic, and so long as you treat them that way, they will last for years.  Yanking the hose to move the unit will snap off the plastic connector and ruin it in short order.  Treat them gently and they will last years and years.

They come in a number of models, my advice is buy the cheapest one, usually under $100 ($89 I think I paid).  The more elaborate models have wheels and a rack to hold wands, etc. and really doesn't add much in terms of value.  The unit I have now looks like the one above.   It was cheap and easy to store on our boat.

I keep it now in a plastic tote, when not in use.  It fits easily, including the wands and hose.

I use mine to wash cars, and it works well.  They have either a soap dispenser bottle, or a pickup hose you can dip into your soap supply.  Turn the wand to low-pressure, and it sprays foamy soap.  Wipe this around with a sponge, and rise off in high pressure mode (which turns off the soap) and you are done.

What kind of soap?  Well the best I have found is this:

This Gel Gloss Wash and Wax soap can be fed through a Karcher to automatically soap your car.  It is like a hot wax treatment at the car wash, and makes even older cars shine - without a lot of work.  It is available at Camper World, but also at other outlets online.  Note:  Do not confuse this with their Fiberglass polish, which comes in a solid white bottle.  That is more like a wax!

I used to, when I was younger, hand-wax my cars, sometimes once a week (!).  It is a lot of work and can create a lot of wax buildup and also cause buff marks in the paint.   It was also a good workout!  As I get older, it is harder to do this so often.  This Gel Gloss, while designed for RVs, creates a very nice shine that lasts a month or more.   Use it like you would any car wash soap.  When you rinse it off, it leaves a hot-wax like shine.

It works on cars, boats, RVs, you-name-it.  Anything with a fiberglass or painted surface seems to glow after using this stuff!

And a gallon jug, like the one above, seems to last forever.   It is the consistency of glue when you get it, so I usually water it down 50% so it goes through the Karcher more easily.

These two products, combined, make washing your car at home a snap - and inexpensive.  And keeping a car clean and shiny not only makes it last longer, it makes YOU less inclined to want to trade it in!

Yea, it is true, so many folks trade in their cars mostly because they are dirty, inside and out...

TIP:  The o-ring on the pressure hose sometimes gets stiff, and it is hard to screw the pressure hose on the unit when putting it together.  Put a little of the car wash soap on the end, first, and it will slide right in!  Don't try to force it, it is plastic and the predictable will happen....

TIP #2:  The unit comes with two wands.  Use the adjustable wand, as it turns the soap on and off when you switch from low to high pressure.  The other "rotary" high-pressure wand is very strong and I would not recommend using it on painted surfaces or fiberglass.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!


  1. Update: After many years of careful service, our Karcher stopped working.

    As an Electrical Engineer, I felt qualified to disassemble the unit and attempt a repair. It turned out that the power switch had arc'ed over time and was no longer making contact. I was able to very carefully disassemble this switch and repair it, and the Karcher appears to be working OK for now.

    It is a very interesting design, as the main power switch is a single throw, double-pole design, spring-loaded, and is toggled by a lever that attaches to the on/off switch, and to a rod that is extended when the system reaches operating pressure.

    Again, the Internet can be helpful. I looked up the user manual on the Karcher site (for the K2.93, which is discontinued).

    However, a parts list is not provided, and searching online for the switch, so far, has been fruitless.

    And some of the switches, well, they want like $30 for. We'll see how long it keeps running, and then go from there.

  2. I found the parts breakdown here:

    The "electric box replacement kit" is part number 97760720 for my serial number 26709.

    However, this part does not seem to be readily available, and if it was, would retail for $80 to $100, which is more than I paid for the washer.

    So, we will keep looking. If it breaks again, I will see if I can pull a part number off the switch itself.

  3. The Karcher still works, although the switch is sort of flaky. Sometimes it does not turn off. But it still works. For $89 it was a good deal and must be 10 years old by now. When I break it (as opposed to it just breaking) I will buy another one. Cheaper and quieter than those gasoline powered models.


    First of all, Dollar Tree wash and wax soap works as well as the Gel-gloss, for a lot less money and is liquid enough to be sucked up by the soap inlet in the Karcher.

    Second, these Karchers are better for home owners as they are SAFER on two counts. An article in Consumer Reports actually had useful information on this - high-pressure gasoline powered units can injure you if you spray your hand under a high-pressure jet. Water can actually blow through under your skin and cause a nasty infection.

    Second, gas-powered pressure washers can produce so much pressure as to actually damage wood and even concrete. Pressure washers in general can blow the seals on double-pane windows, causing them to fog up.

    For CONSUMER USE, these electric pressure washers are a better deal all around.

  5. UPDATE #3: We bought a new Karcher for under $100 on Amazon. It works as well as the old one did. These seem to last about 5-10 years, which is good.

    Gas powered ones don't seem to last as long - usually the gas engine gives fits because it is used intermittently. Put sta-bil in the gas and pray. The Karchers are also cheaper, too, in the long run, as they cost less.


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